« הקודםהמשך »
so much innocence and cheerfulness in her behaviour, that it is impossible not to love her.
In the room where we had supped the preceding evening I found Mr. and Mrs. Levi. I do not say that my reception was kind; it was more than is commonly understood by that term; I was received with the greatest tenderness. At breakfast Mr. Levi said that we were all invited to dine at Mr. Asher's, a relation of his who lives on the opposite side of the square.
Mr. Levi, said Mr. Asher after dinner, I never was more surprised than when I heard that you had left the religon of our ancestors, and embraced a religion by the professors of which so many of our nation ha ve been murdered.
Mr. Levi. Would it be right, Sir, to judge of the truths delivered to Moses, by the rebellious behaviour of our forefathers in the wilderness; by their worshipping the host of heaven ; and by their sacrificing their children to Moloch? Or ought we not rather to judge of them by the miracles which Moses and the other prophets were enabled to perform ; by the historical account of their divine origin ; and by the holy lives of thousands who adhered to the Lord in the worst of times ? Even now it would be unfair to judge of the writings of Moses and the prophets by the lives of many, who yet would be offended if we were to question their being the disciples of Moses.
Mr. Asher. You seem to acknowledge our religion to be the true religion; how is it then that you have abandoned it?
Mr. Levi. I have not abandoned it. I have now many evidences of its divine origin which I was formerly unacquainted with. I can truly say that I neither understood, nor fully believed the writings of Moses and the prophets till I became a Christian.
Mr. Asher. This is very wonderful. You did not believe our scriptures, till you believed in a plurality of Gods.
Mr. Levi. I believe in only one God; the great I AM; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Mr. Asher. Did not our ancestors put Jesus to death for professing himself to be equal with God? And, after his death, did not his disciples maintain his divinity, and pay him a correspondent regard ?
Mr. Levi. I do not deny it.
Mr. Asher. And yet you believe in only one God. Explain your meaning.
Mr. Levi. Jesus Christ is God.
Mr. Asher. If you had lived in those days, and had heard a carpenter declare that he and Jehovah were one, would you not have thought him insane? Or if you had been a magistrate in the Jewish theocracy, and as such, a guardian of the honour of God and of the rights of men; and if you had thought this person to be in his sober senses, and an impostor, would you not have acted as our ancestors did ?
Mr. Levi. Most probably I should, unless he had by some means proved the truth of his claims. And even if he had done this, the meanness of his condition, and my preconceived opinion of what the Messiah ought to have been, might, in concurrence with my native pride, have disposed me to join in the cry against him. . . Mr. Asher. Do you think then that any evidence ought to have been admitted, that a person appearing to be a man, was the eternal Jehovah ?
Mr. Levi. I think it ought; especially if the writings of Moses and the prophets had given reason for expecting that this would be the case. If it imply an absurdity that God should appear in human form, how do you account for the divine appearances to Abraham, and other persons, which are recorded in the Old Testament?
Mr. Asher. Does it not shock our reason to suppose, that the most High was an infant, a youth, a man, a poor man, and a mechanic; and that this performer of miracles should not protect himself, if he could do it, from a scandalous and painful death?
Mr. Levi. All these things are agreeable to our own prophecies. You will not say that the prophecies are
contrary to reason : the accomplishment of them, therefore, cannot be solf, however, I were conversing with an infidel, I would not decline the task of defending the reasonableness both of the prophecies and of their accomplishment. I would say, that it was not contrary to reason that Jehovah should manifest himself to men in a human budy, and dwell among them: I would say, that it was not wonderful that this holy man should be despised and persecuted by wicked men. I would say, that it was not unreasonable that his human body, which was prepared to be a veil to his glory, should grow up as a tender plant, and increase from the diminutive size of an infant to the stature of a man. I would say, that it was not contrary to reason that he should permit. himself to be put to death, who came to be a sacrifice for sin. I would say that it does not shock my reason that he who came into the world to bear our griefs, and to carry our sorrows, should become poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. Independently, however, of this consideration, it would not have been more honourable to God if he had vi. sited his creatures as a king, than as a mechanic; as a rich man, than as a poor man; or as an idle man, than as a laborious man. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. God has recommended industry in his word: why then should he not recommend it by his example? He has also honoured poverty, by choosing, in general, the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom: is it wonderful then that he should choose poverty as that condition of life wherein to reside' among men ?
Mr. Asher. If Jesus was God, are there not two Gods?
Mr. Levi. Jesus never professed to be another God dis. tinct from his father, but that he was one with him. His being a man did not hinder but that he might also be God. Did he not appear to Abraham, and converse with him, before the destruction of Sodom? This appearance was in a human form : for Jehovah was one of the three men who appeared to him in the plains of Mamre, when he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day, as appears from the
whole of the narration -Did not God appear to Joshua and say, As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come ; loose thy shoe from of thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ?-And did not the Lord send an angel before our fathers in the wilderness, commanding them to obey his voice, and to provoke him not ; for he would not pardon their transgressions ; the name of God being in him ?-Now because God appeared in human form, you do not infer that there are two Gods.
Mr. Asher. These instances are not in point. Jesus was a man in reality. He had a human soul as well as a body.
Mr. Levi. Though not exactly similar, they are sufficiently so to answer your objection ; for if Jehovah assumed the appearance of humanity, why might he not as. sume humanity itself?
Mr. Asher. Do not Christians in general believe that there are three persons in the Godhead ? .
Mr. Levi. Yes, they do ; for they find the Old Testament abounding in language which they cannot otherwise understand ; and in the New Testament they behold the Father, Son, and holy Spirit, constantly represented under personal names, approached in personal addresses, and receiving personal worship. They do not suppose, however, that the distinction in the Godhead is equal to that of three persons among men, but that they are, notwithstanding this distinction, one God, one eternal, self-existent Being. Mr. Asher. How can three përsons be one being ?
Mr. Levi. They certainly cannot in the same respects; nor am I so much acquainted with the different respects in which they are three and one, as to pretend to find any thing among creatures by which to illustrate it. It is a mystery, which I can neither explain nor comprehend. Who by searching can find out God? The divine eternity and immensity are equally incomprehensible. On subjects like these, it is wiser to pause and adore than too curiously to inquire. There are mysteries in creation and provi. dence: is it wonderful therefore that there should be
mysteries in the word of God ? It becomes us to be hum. ble, and not to think of ourselves above what we ought to think.
Here the conversation on this subject closed.
The next morning after breakfast Mrs. and Miss Levi. took a walk into the city, and desired me to accompany them. I little thought what was the design. My kind benefactors make it their study to heap favours upon me, which I fear it will never be in my power to repay, except with prayers for their happiness. We went to a linendraper's shop, where Mrs. Levi bought a great number of articles which I supposed to be for herself, whereas the whole was intended for me. I felt myself weighed down by the favours I received, and so I told my kind benefactress. Miss Levi, perceiving my confusion, took hold of my hand, and said, My dear Miss Neville, you are my sister. Did not my father call you his child ? Do not think it strange that children should be provided for by their parents. Your new parents love you ; and I love you.
True, my dear, said Mrs. Levi to her amiable daughter ; and where there is sincere affection, it will not issue in mere unavailing sympathy ; much less in empty compliments.--My child, said she to me, I must request that you will not think too highly of the trifing presents which you have received, or may receive. It gives me pain to see you distressed, whatever be the cause. Believe me, Miss Neville, the pleasure we receive far exceeds the benefits we confer.
I took her hand, and that of her daughter, and, pressing tlvem to my lips, watered them with my tears ; but I was unable to speak.-Come, my child, said she, lake courage. Your heavenly Father is able to provide for you ; and I have no doubt but you will see better days than these ; days in which you yourself will be happy in alleviating the distresses of others. But we must now - begin to employ ourselves. Mr. Levi will set out for Brussels in two or three days, and will return in a fortnight; and by that time all the articles which you have lost may be replaced.